Fatigue and Brain Fog can affect us at any age, but what’s causing it?
We commonly assume that fatigue and brain fog won’t hit us until we are in our 60’s and 70’s. But worryingly, this syndrome is increasingly affecting men and women of all ages. Modern society creates stresses and strains from our teenage years onwards, and I am sure we all know someone in our circle who regularly becomes anxious and overwhelmed by life.
The human body requires a very complex balance act of nutrients, rest, exercise, mental agility, hormones and complementary internal harmony.
It stands to reason that fatigue and brain fog stem from lack of sleep. What’s more interesting, is what is causing the lack of sleep in the first place.
Impaired cognitive functioning or cloudy mental thinking can be caused by several underlying issues often hashed together under the somewhat unhelpful catch-all term of ‘stress’. It is a lot easier to say ‘I am stressed’ than to think about the underlying issues or concerns.
To understand brain fog and fatigue, I believe we should try to work out what’s causing it for the individual.
Brain fog and fatigue at any age is a signal that something is wrong. It shouldn’t be considered a normal phenomenon at any age.
Anyone who has had an elderly relative in hospital who suddenly becomes very confused will be used to the common diagnosis of a urinary tract infection (UTI). This is an example of health issues manifesting themselves with symptoms of cognitive decline.
Be aware, be informed
Here are just some of the potential health issues you should be looking out for:
- Gut microbiome. These have a fundamental and essential role in our immune responses. The gut microbes symbiotically produce a protective response to infection and help to clear harmless antigens within the body. Autoimmune and inflammatory responses are directly influenced by healthy gut bacteria.
- Blood sugars. Our brains need a steady source of energy to function creating memory and clarity. Blood sugar is associated with both brain function and brain structure. Dieting and skipping meals reduces brain functioning and can cause dizziness, headaches and fatigue whilst high blood sugar is known to shrink the brain and restrict brain connectivity which can lead to vascular dementia.
- Most of us will have experienced memory fog around ovulation, pregnancy and menopause and this is largely due to fluctuations in oestrogen levels. But these can be so severe in some instances, that mental clarity can have a severe impact on our day to day functioning. Lack of sleep from a newborn, perimenopausal insomnia or severe period pains can lead to long term fatigue and brain dysfunction.
- Anaemia produces cardiovascular changes as reduced red blood cells reduce oxygen supplies around the body. This in turn causes chronic fatigue with impaired brain functioning or lowered cognitive recall and lowered verbal fluency.
- Thyroid Gland. The thyroid gland regulates the brain, growth and development. A dysfunctioning thyroid gland will cause weight loss or weight gain, heartbeat irregularity, severe fatigue and severe cognitive functioning with memory issues like dementia.
- Bacterial infections particularly for the elderly are usually urinary or lung and very quickly produce memory issues similar in nature to dementia. However, toxins that can produce severe fatigue and cloudy thinking can be fungal, bacterial or parasitic. Most of us will have experienced a family member who has a very high or delirious fever.
This is by no means a definitive list of possible causes for severe fatigue or brain fog, but my article is meant to stimulate thought and discussion. Whilst we may accept that fatigue and brain fog is to be an expected secondary effect of everyday life, it shouldn’t be accepted as ‘normal’. It is the body’s and brain’s way of telling you there might be something out of sync, something that needs to be looked into. And other than looking to just rest, eat well and exercise, it might be worth booking that annual medical check to help you restore proper health and vitality in your life.